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Sports & Rec

Hanson Coach Reflects On 600 Career Wins

fa7bc0995f_Jim Bridge Story.jpg
Craig Wollman

In his first year as a head coach at Hanson, Jim Bridge and his team won four games. The second year, Hanson won five games.

In the 2021-22 season, his Hanson girls basketball squad has 15 wins (15-4 record overall) and win number 14 of the season was also Bridge’s 600th career win.

“Out of those 600 (wins), going into year three we had nine wins,” Bridge said. “It started to turn around from there. One of my kids did the math and said ‘do you realize that was nearly 17 wins a year to average for that many years to get to 600.”

There were cookies to honor his 600th win, something he said he didn’t want to make a big fuss over, but since the win, has been receiving messages from players recalling those four win seasons he had in 1985-86.

Bridge, a Wagner native, was a member of the Wagner basketball team in high and went to Springfield College.

“I started at college at Springfield, and I have to tell everybody I was there before it was a prison,” Bridge joked. “Some people forget it used to be a college.”

Being out of high school for one year, Bridge coached at Springfield High School and when they merged with Bon Homme, Bridge made the transition to help out at Bon Homme.

Right as Bridge was getting ready to finish his degree in teaching, Springfield closed, forcing Bridge to move up to Aberdeen to finish school at Northern State. He was an assistant at Armour under coach Burnell Glanzer, who recorded 617 career wins.

“He had 617 wins coaching boys over those years and I’m like, are you kidding me? There’s no way that I will even come close to that, and you don’t set out to do something like that, you just set out to win your first one,” Bridge said.

And for Bridge, it really never was about the wins, the state championships, the accolades. All Bridge wanted was to make an impact on people’s lives in a positive way. From teacher, to Principal, Athletic Director and Superintendent, Bridge found a way to have an impact on the kids in the Hanson School District, on and off the court.

“I drove the bus to games, I’ve been driving since I started,” Bridge said. “You have to do what you have to do to make everything work around here, and I’m just lucky I have a lot of great people around us.”

Bridge is now at 601 wins after a win against Beresford earlier this week. He is one of two girls coaches to eclipse 600 wins in his career, joining Dawn Seiler.

“It’s hard to pick out what team was your best team. It’s hard to pick out what players were your best players,” Bridge said. “Part of it is just having your family included in some way. The other night, all four of my grandkids were at my game and they’re all little squirts but I was happy.”

The day after win 600, Bridge went to lunch with his family and saw his grandson, a kindergartener, play basketball. Those things mean more, Bridge said.

Bridge, after over 35 years of coaching, has stories he could share for a month he said. He remembers each loss more vividly than each win, but at the end of the day, it's all about each group of kids and preparing them for the world ahead of them.

“I could probably talk for a month about (memories), but I don’t know what stands out any more than any other one other than the relationships with kids, people, and other coaches,” Bridge said.